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The Geography of the Soul

The Geography of the Soul

Books, books, books. Obviously I stoked a deep passion recently when I began reminiscing about the books that have been significant to me; everything I do seems to remind of another one I’ve read – blasting the aphids off my roses with the hose this morning recalled “The Secret Garden”!

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Reading and books are a huge part of “my adagio life”, and I think because they are so much a part of my makeup I don’t acknowledge that nearly often enough.  

In any event, I’m not sure what set this particular memory off, but the book “Damage” by Josephine Hart drifted into my mind this morning. That book opens with one of my favourite excerpts:

“There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home. Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city. For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe. We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place”.

When have I stood “cold with the shock of recognition”? When has “the twisted iron” in my soul unlocked itself and I’ve slipped at last into place? To me those questions are simple to answer: when my children were born, when I met Yogi. It also happened when I visited a beautiful part of the western Scottish highlands – Glencoe. Well, plenty wouldn’t think it ‘beautiful’; the travelling companion I was with at the time described it as “gloomy” and “desolate”. Not to me. 

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Glencoe has a colourful history of course (the massacre of 1692 being one significant historical event). If I was inclined to fancy I’d be thinking in terms of past lives or something (and I haven’t actually ever read the ‘Highlander’ books – go figure!) In any event, all I know is I found the outline of my soul in Glencoe, or at least a part outline. 

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My home though is here, where I have eased like water over a stone. This harsh country, where at the present time the hills are aching in the heat and dust haze, the plea is for rain, and Drought a conquering monster:

“My road is fenced with the bleached, white bones 

And strewn with the blind, white sand, 

Beside me a suffering, dumb world moans 

On the breast of a lonely land. 

On the rim of the world the lightnings play, 

The heat-waves quiver and dance, 

And the breath of the wind is a sword to slay 

And the sunbeams each a lance. 

I have withered the grass where my hot hoofs tread, 

I have whitened the sapless trees, 

I have driven the faint-heart rains ahead 

To hide in their soft green seas”.

(William Ogilvie, 1869 – 1963).

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